Thursday, March 17, 2011

Imagining The Atlantic Ocean

A passage from Simon Winchester's - Atlantic: A Vast Ocean Of A Million Stories

The Atlantic is in most places not at all like the Pacific or the Indian oceans - it is not dominated by the color blue, nor is it overwhelmingly fringed with leaning palm trees and coral reefs. It is a grey and heaving sea, not infrequently storm-bound, ponderous with swells, a sea that in the mind's eye is thick with trawlers lurching, bows up, then crashing down  through great white curtains of spume, tankers wallowing though the swells, its weather so often on the verge of gales, and all the while its waters moving with an air of settled purpose, simultaneously displaying incalculable power, and inspiring by this display perpetual admiration, respect, caution and fear. 

The Atlantic is the classic ocean of our imaginings, an industrial ocean of cold and iron and salt, a purposeful ocean of sea-lanes and docksides and fisheries, an ocean alive with squadrons of steadily moving ships above, with unimaginable volumes of mysterious marine abundance below. It is also an entity that seems to be somehow interminable. Year in and year out, night and day, warm and cold, century after century, the ocean is always there, an eternal presence in the collective minds of those who live beside it.

As with many of his other books there is a lot of geology in this one too, but it is evocative passages like these that I enjoy the most.


  1. Another intriguing book from one of my favorite authors. Winchester certainly does know how to weave words into a story.